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6 Must-Read Books on Queer History


Learn more about LGBTQ+ history through these scholarly reads — all specially-curated and available at the Tenement Museum Shop! And don’t forget to watch our virtual Tenement Tour, Queer Pride on the Lower East Side on YouTube now through June 30th.

Public Faces, Secret Lives
Wendy L. Rouse


The women’s suffrage movement, much like many other civil rights movements, has an important and often unrecognized queer history. Queer suffragists built lasting alliances and developed innovative strategies in order to protect their most intimate relationships, ones that were ultimately crucial to the success of the movement. Public Faces, Secret Lives is the first work to truly recenter queer figures in women’s suffrage, highlighting their immense contributions as well as their sacrifices.

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments
Saidiya Hartman


Beautifully written and deeply researched, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the 20th century. In wrestling with the question of what a free life is, many young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability and outside the bounds of law. Through a melding of history and literary imagination, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments finally credits these women with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape.

Gay New York
George Chauncey


Gay New York brilliantly shatters the myth that before the 1960s gay life existed only in the closet, where gay men were isolated, invisible, and self-hating. Drawing on a rich trove of diaries, legal records, and other unpublished documents, George Chauncey constructs a fascinating portrait of a vibrant, cohesive gay world that is not supposed to have existed.

The Gay Metropolis
Charles Kaiser


Filled with astounding anecdotes and searing tales of heartbreak and transformation, The Gay Metropolis provides a decade-by-decade account of the rise and acceptance of gay life and identity since the 1940s. From the making of West Side Story to the catastrophic era of AIDS, and with a dazzling cast of characters — including Leonard Bernstein, Montgomery Clift, Alfred Hitchcock, John F. Kennedy, and RuPaul — this is a vital telling of American history.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Rob Sanders


Beautifully written and illustrated, Pride tells the story of Harvey Milk and Gilbert Baker’s collaboration to create a symbol of pride for the gay community. This story is an inspiring representation of equality and inclusion and will be treasured for years to come by young readers.

Posters for Change: Tear, Paste, Protest

Princeton Architectural Press


Make your voice heard with this collection of 50 tear-out posters created by designers from around the globe! This collection of posters is made for—and by—people who want to make their voices heard in a time of unprecedented political activism and resistance.